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Trader Joe’s is the first retail or restaurant tenant to be nailed down for the Seaholm mixed-use development.

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More than Trader Joe’s in store: Seaholm development targets ‘urban bohemians’

Posted by Urbanspace Realtors on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 9:27am

A funny thing happened on the way to the recent announcement that Trader Joe’s is setting up shop in downtown Austin. Amid the frenzy, most Central Texans overlooked the fact that Trader Joe’s is the first retail or restaurant tenant to be nailed down for the Seaholm mixed-use development.

“Securing the first retail tenant is an important milestone for any project, but in this case, securing a tenant with such an established, loyal and enthusiastic support base really increased the impact,” says John Rosato, managing partner of Seaholm Power LLC, the company behind development of the old Seaholm Power Plant. “It’s helping us attract other tenants that like the idea of being near Trader Joe’s.”

The Seaholm project is seeking retail and restaurant tenants that cater to “sophisticated urban bohemians.”

Rosato said the Seaholm project is seeking retail and restaurant tenants that cater to “sophisticated urban bohemians” — shoppers and diners who are “independent thinkers, global nomads and cultural trend-setters.”

The nearly 8-acre Seaholm site, near Cesar Chavez and San Antonio streets, eventually will feature almost 130,000 square feet of offices and nearly 300 high-rise apartments in addition to stores and restaurants.

Trader Joe’s will be the biggest retail tenant at the Seaholm project. The California-based grocer, a competitor of Whole Foods Market, will occupy about 11,000 square feet at Seaholm. Other retail and restaurant tenants will lease less space — about 1,000 to 9,000 square feet each. In all, retailers and restaurants will take up about 50,000 square feet.

“We’re looking for other strong, local, regional or even distinct national tenants that will add to the unique ambiance Seaholm inherently possesses,” Rosato tells CultureMap Austin. “The demographics are geared toward urban-oriented 25- to 50-year-olds with an appreciation for authentic culture.”

The nearly 8-acre Seaholm site will feature almost 130,000 square feet of offices and nearly 300 high-rise apartments in addition to stores and restaurants.

Rosato is tight-lipped about which retail and restaurant tenants are on the Seaholm wish list.

“We’re happy to say we’re in negotiations with some right now, but due to the sensitive nature of such talks, we aren’t in a position to reveal specific names at this point,” Rosato says.

Rosato acknowledged there will be some crossover between Seaholm visitors and those who frequent the neighboring Second Street District, which can count Rosato and his business partners among its fans.

“That said, Seaholm has a distinct sense of history, architecture and ambiance. There’s a unique vibe that made it an instant cultural hit with everyone from fine arts performers to hip-hop artists that clamored to hold events there. In our minds, that confirmed the need to gear our efforts toward tenants with a deep appreciation for timeless urban culture,” Rosato says.

By John Egan

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